A 62-year-old North Little Rock man has accepted a 25-year prison sentence for the shotgun slaying of a 37-year-old man in what he initially claimed to be a freak accident.
Sentencing papers filed Tuesday showed Jimmy Lee Bryant pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for the 25-year sentence imposed by Pulaski County Circuit Judge Leon Johnson.
Bryant has been jailed since his arrest shortly after the May 30, 2020, slaying of Melvin Rashun Parham outside the Bryant family home, 6910 Lucky Drive, near the Titan Lane intersection in the McAlmont community.
In exchange for his guilty plea, negotiated by chief deputy prosecutor John Johnson and defense attorney Verona Swanigan, an unlawful-discharge count was dropped. He will have to serve more than 17 years before he can apply for parole.
Court records show Bryant told sheriff's deputies that Parham, a father of one, had beaten him and, as an "old man" of 60, he did not know what else to do. He further told investigators his nephew had been with Parham, both acting as if they wanted to fight him.
Bryant said he had been on his way to a nearby pasture, planning to shoot his new shotgun, following an argument with his sister.
He said Parham and his nephew confronted him outside the residence and the gun went off and hit Parham in a "freak accident," court filings show.
Bryant later told deputies he had fired the gun in an attempt to scare the younger men away. Bryant's family said there had been no conflict between Parham and Bryant, but that as Bryant was driving away he rolled down his window and displayed the shotgun, saying "you think this is a fake gun," before gunshots rang out, court filings show.
Witnesses further described Bryant talking about killing someone, quoting him as saying "I'm going to show y'all about killing somebody. Y'all don't know nothing about killing anybody."